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H&R Block founder to retire
June 21, 2000: 7:46 p.m. ET

Henry Bloch to step down from tax preparation company in September
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Henry Bloch, chairman of H&R Block Inc., the largest U.S. preparer of tax returns, set plans Wednesday to step down later this year from the company he co-founded in 1955.

graphicBloch, 77, a World War II Air Force navigator who formed the company with his brother Richard, helped pilot H&R Block from a small bookkeeping operation in Kansas City, Mo., into a $1.5 billion financial services company, one of the world's most recognizable franchises, and the second-largest publisher of tax preparations software.

In September, Bloch will retire as chairman of the board, a position he has held since the company's formation, and will become honorary chairman. Succeeding Bloch as chairman of the company will be Frank Salizzoni, 61, who has been H&R Block's chief executive officer since 1996.

Both executive changes will be effective Sept. 13, coinciding with the company's annual meeting.

Separately, on Wednesday H&R Block reported a profit for its fiscal fourth quarter of $340.8 million, or $3.47 a share, up from $297.4 million or $3.05 a year ago. Analysts polled by First Call had expected a profit of about $3.44 a share.

Fourth quarter revenue rose to $1.6 billion from $1.2 billion in the same period a year ago.

For the fiscal year, Block reported net earnings of $251.9 million, or $2.55 a share, compared with $237.8 million, or $2.36 a share, earned in the fiscal 1999 year. The 2000 year results were in line with a warning issued earlier in June that the company's profit would fall short of its own earlier projections and Wall Street's expectations.

New CEO also named; takes position in January

The company on Wednesday also approved a succession plan for senior management, which will occur at the end of 2000. Under the plan, Salizzoni will retire as chief executive officer on December 31, 2000, but continue in the role of chairman. Mark Ernst, 41, currently president and chief operating officer, will assume the role of president and chief executive officer.

graphicBloch's company hit its stride in 1955 after running an ad in the Kansas City Star newspaper announcing "Income Tax, $5." The pitch quickly generated a gaggle of customers, who that year discovered their local IRS offices were no longer providing free tax preparation services.

In 1956, the Blochs expanded their successful tax business to New York, and soon grew their franchise to all 50 states and Canada. Today, H&R Block has a network of more than 10,000 tax offices located primarily in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain.

This year, H&R Block (HRB: Research, Estimates) served approximately 21 million tax clients worldwide, more than any other company.

Shares of H&R Block rose 3/8 to 30-1/16 on Wednesday afternoon. Back to top


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